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End of Eviction Moratorium Results in Changes to Eviction Protection Process

| August 03, 2021, 11:56 AM

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Arundel Community Development Services (ACDS) announced adjustments in the County’s eviction protection process designed to help tenants remain in their homes while providing funding to landlords as federal and state eviction moratoriums end.

“COVID created tremendous stress on our economy, and left many in our community struggling to pay rent,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “From the first days of the pandemic, our ACDS team took swift action to keep people in their homes while finding ways to help provide landlords with resources. The moratoriums coming to an end presents a new challenge, one I know Kathy Koch and the team at ACDS will meet.”

The CDC’s federal eviction moratorium ended on July 31, while the State’s moratorium is slated to expire on August 15. As these protections lapsed, ACDS Executive Director Kathleen Koch and her team worked to adjust processes to increase the number of interventions in place to prevent evictions. Among other steps, ACDS:

 

  • Step 1: Increased coordination and outreach to landlords to ensure they were fully aware of the program and how its works;
  • Step 2: Provided funding to more than double the staff at Community Legal Services to ensure attorneys were available to provide in court same day assistance;
  • Step 3: Added office space adjacent to the Courts for the increased staff at Community Legal Services so judges can easily refer tenants;
  • Step 4:  Added ACDS staff adjacent to the courts and adjacent to Community Legal Services to improve the coordination between clients in eviction court and the ACDS Eviction Prevention Program so applications can be prioritized and rents quickly paid;
  • Step 5: Set up a system with the Sheriff’s Office so that ACDS staff can do a daily cross reference of their list for evictions with those who have applied for assistance in an effort to prioritize these cases so rents can be paid and evictions stopped;
  • Step 6: Working closely with the District Court Chief Administrative Judge to ensure all judges are aware of our program and how it works and to see if we can get voluntary postponement allowing us to process the application.

“The eviction moratoriums helped provide us the time needed to make contact with tenants and landlords and resolve issues before evictions took place,” Arundel Community Development Services Executive Director Kathleen Koch said. “We have moved quickly to let tenants and landlords know that while the moratoriums are ending, we still have money and resources available – to help tenants remain in their homes, and to help ease some of the financial burdens taken on by landlords.”

ACDS’s strategy on eviction protection strategy includes:

Financial Assistance for Renters Behind on their Rent

Anne Arundel County stood up the State’s first Eviction Prevention Program (EPP), in response to the pandemic, and developed five different points of entry for tenants who need rental assistance which include a newly-opened EPP office right next to the courthouse. To date, the County has made over $12.5 million in payments made through federal funds. The County has also coordinated with the Sheriff’s office and can access their calendar of evictions, which allows EPP staff to prioritize EPP financial assistance to clients with pending evictions first.  Finally, working with landlords and their trade industry, the County has developed a landlord agreement, which prevents evictions from occurring for up to 90 days after EPP assistance is provided. This protects tenants and our investment.

Legal Representation for Renters in Failure to Pay Rent Cases

The County has increased its support of legal representation, allocating a total of $430,000 to support the work of attorneys and support staff through Community Legal Services (CLS)  who are dedicated to County tenants facing eviction in Failure to Pay Rent cases. The County has established an office adjacent to the County District Court in Glen Burnie so that CLS attorneys could be available for Anne Arundel County renters facing eviction. To date, of the 89 tenants receiving this legal representation, none have been evicted.

Assistance for Housing Authority City of Annapolis (HACA) Residents

Designed, funded, and implemented a program to assist the more than 50% of HACA residents behind on their rent and at risk of eviction with legal representation, case management, and referrals through the partners at Civil Justice.

Working with the Courts

The County, with Arundel Community Development Services, Inc. (ACDS), has proposed a plan for a Rental Assistance Diversion Program to create a settlement off-ramp in the process that would provide a brief diversion in a Failure to Pay Rent case. This would allow for the processing of rental assistance applications to allow for landlords to get paid rather than going through with an eviction and tenants can remain housed. In addition, the ACDS General Counsel and the legal team have been working with the District Court Chief Administrative Judge since the pandemic began to ensure EPP outreach information is shared with judges hearing landlord-tenant cases and with landlords and tenants who make and respond to filings.

For more information on the ACDS eviction protection efforts, including more information on resources for tenants and landlords, click here.

Category: COVID, Local News, NEWS, Post To FB

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